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It's also a very livable city. Housing prices are well below the national average, making home ownership very affordable. There are many attractive apartment complexes that offer the amenities of swimming pools and tennis courts without the upkeep.
For those with children, Columbia offers award-winning public and private primary and secondary schools. Columbia also boasts a nationally recognized technical college and several colleges and universities in addition to the University of South Carolina. Thanks to a diversified local economy, employment opportunities for spouses are plentiful.
Here you'll find both big-city variety and quaint, local offerings. In addition to suburban malls, Columbia is home to more intimate, local shopping and entertainment districts. The Five Points area near the University of South Carolina is a thriving village of shops, night life, dining and residences. The Congaree Vista is a historic downtown warehouse district that has undergone a renaissance and is now home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, night clubs, antique shops, art galleries and offices.
Columbia's moderate climate is ideal for outdoors enthusiasts. Sports like tennis, golf, rollerblading, biking and running can be enjoyed year-round. Lake Murray, with its 500-mile shoreline, is located minutes from the hospitals, providing immediate access to boating, fishing, skiing and swimming. There's hiking at the Congaree Swamp National Monument and a number of state parks. You can canoe and kayak on any of the three rivers that converge in the city. Another favorite destination is Riverbanks Zoological Park and Botanical Garden, among the top 20 zoos in the country.
There also are many league teams for baseball, bowling, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball. For those who enjoy spectator sports, Division I college sports are played by the University of South Carolina's Gamecocks.